We recently hosted a well-attended breakfast on the theme of customer experience and concluded that, for consumer-facing industries, the web has changed EVERYTHING. Back in the 1990s, retail was about location, location, location. Now it is about any time, any place, anywhere. Power is in the hands of the consumer.
Technology is the conduit and enabler – not the starting point. We keep hearing about ‘digital transformation’, but what we are really facing is customer-centric transformation.
Businesses need to be aware that brand is not the most important thing to customers – convenience is. The key to the success of disruptors, like Uber or Metro Bank, is their customer-first approach. With technology enabling the emergence of many more such competitors, building customer loyalty is vital. ROI shouldn’t just be about investment, it needs to be about ‘return on involvement’. Engaged customers are advocates who attract other customers; they buy more frequently and are more loyal, therefore more profitable: according to Harvard Business Review, a five per cent increase in customer retention converts to a 25-95 per cent increase in profit.
Consequently, businesses should consider their structure around customers not channels. Most consumer and retail businesses are still operating in siloed channels. Separate digital and instore teams are never going to deliver the integrated experience that the mobile-savvy customer wants. To drive change, organisations need to consider new executive roles. These include a chief customer officer with a mandate to define and deliver ‘what we need to do’ to achieve the new customer-facing approach; a change agent to answer the ‘how we need to do it’ question; and a chief insight officer to interpret data and turn it into actionable insights. We are also witnessing the creation of a cross-functional ‘customer enablement team’. This is a steering group made up of directors and functional heads, but also colleagues across the business to ensure that the new customer-first approach is being delivered within core operational areas. Shadow boards made up of digital natives can also prove highly effective in helping businesses use technology to maximise customer experience.
If you would like to discuss these issues in more detail, please contact us for an initial, confidential conversation: Lucie Shaw, email@example.com
Norman Broadbent hosts regular breakfast briefings with thought leaders. If you are interested in attending future events, contact Sian Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org